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April 16, 2014 / mintcustard

An Easter Egg bundt.

An Easter egg bundt

An Easter egg bundt

I’m new to this bundt game. I have friends who love them but the tins are expensive and when i saw them in the US at a sensible price I couldn’t get them home for frear of racking up a huge amount of excess luggage fees. So, when I saw this beautiful tin in the sale at Lakeland I was able to treat myself.

Jubilee bundt tin

Jubilee bundt tin

I am now in love. The tin produced this most beautiful cake. I used a marbled bundt recipe from BBC Good Food and it was obviously for a slightly smaller tin than the one I have but nevertheless it it is a start. I shall now get on with creating some recipes of my own.

Cake out from the tin.

Cake out from the tin.

As I had also been sent a selection of Easter goodies to try by Sainsburys I used the Taste the Difference Swiss chocolate mini eggs in milk, dark and white chocolate to decorate the cake. . When looking up the price just now I discover they are on offer at two bags for £3. Bargain! I toyed with leaving them wrapped as they are lovely pastel foils but the teen rightly said that you’d want to eat the cake not pfaff with unwrapping the eggs!

 

Taste the difference Swiss chocolate mini eggs

Taste the difference Swiss chocolate mini eggs

 

The bundt was drizzled with a very simple glace icing and then the unwrapped solid eggs, milk, dark and white chocolate, were popped into the niches in the cakes surface. the hardening glace icing held the eggs in place

Iced and egged.

Iced and egged.

I do wish we could set up some kind of bundt tin lending library, then we could try all the different shapes without either taking out a mortgage to buy them or find cupboard space when we do succumb. I am very fearful this is the first tin of many!

April 14, 2014 / mintcustard

Easter arrives at Mintcustard Mansions.

Daffodils

Daffodils

Something about the Easter break raises my spirits. The lengthening of the days, the blooming of beautiful spring flowers and the fact that the whole time is less pressured than Christmas. The addition of chocolate into this mix does also make life better too.

Sainsburys Easter goodies.

Sainsburys Easter goodies.

How lovely then to receive a box of Easter treats from Sainsburys. My little ones are now in their very late teens so I have less of a panic about the whole of an Easter weekend becoming a blur of chocolate, sugar rushes and tummy aches. However  I was very pleased to see a selection of lovely Easter gifts that were fun but not edible. My young niece and nephew will get these to play with later this week., (I will also get them chocolate too)!

Just a little chocolate.

Just a little chocolate.

For those of us with slightly better self control than a toddler where chocolate is concerned I loved the Belgian chocolate egglets. I’m saving the big egg for Easter Sunday itself and I’m sure there will be others willing to help me demolish it.  I’m going to wash it down with my very own 20cl bottle of taste the difference conegliano prosecco (£3).

Egglets

Egglets

The raisin haters in my family loved the pack of Taste the Difference Double chocolate hot cross buns, (£1.20). They vanished before I could take a photo and have been put on my list for the next trip to the supermarket.

Grown up treats.

Grown up treats.

Thank you to Sainsburys for these goodies. Ill be back in a later post to tell you how I used those solid eggs above in a delicious recipe.

April 13, 2014 / mintcustard

Roasting red peppers for red pepper hummus.

Beautiful sweet red peppers

Beautiful sweet red peppers

There are some kitchen chores that are just that, chores. Boring, repetitive but necessary. One task I really do love though is roasting red peppers. Something about turning those solid, shiny, blocky fruits into a soft, silky and really rather sexy versatile ingredient. The sweetness is intensified and the smokiness adds a real depth of flavour to any dish. I know you can buy jars of the things ready prepared but doing it yourself is so easy and the house smells wonderful too.

At about £1.60 for 6 of these sweet pointed peppers in Lidl these were a real bargain too.

Ingredients

Peppers any colour will do, a mixture gives a great colour lift to any dish.

salt

olive oil

How to

  • Place the peppers in a baking tin and drizzle with a little oil and a sprinkle of salt.
  • You can roast these in the oven at 240c for 20 minutes or until the skin is blackened and blistered.

or

  • Pop them under a grill, turning occasionally until the skin is blackened and blistered.

or

  • Place on a BBQ, turning occasionally again until the skin is blackened and blistered.
De seeded and skinned red peppers.

De seeded and skinned red peppers.

  • Pop the hot steamy peppers into a bowl and cover the top with cling film, this will trap the steam allowing the skin to slide off once the peppers are cooled.
  • Once cooled peel off the skin and de seed. Use the flesh to fill a sandwich, to add garnish to a salad or some pizzaz to a bruschetta. The possibilities are endless.
  • A glass of ice cold sherry and a plate of them as tapas is wonderful too.
  • Try this recipe below if you are a hummus lover.
Red Pepper Hummus

Red Pepper Hummus

Red Pepper Hummus.

Ingredients

Two large red peppers roasted, peeled and deseeded,

1 x 410g can chickpeas

2 tablespoons light tahini

juice of a lemon

good pinch of Maldon salt

4 tablespoons of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic peeled and roughly chopped

How to

  • Reserve a couple of thin strips of pepper and a dessert spoon of chickpeas and put them to one side.
  • Put all the ingredients into a blender or your choice – I use a big bowl and a stick blender.
  • Blitz
  • Scrape down and blitz again.
  • Place in a bowl and scatter over the reserved red pepper strips and chick peas.
  • Drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve with fresh pitta and crudities.

 

April 12, 2014 / mintcustard

Black Forest cocktail – another Easter cocktail

Black Forest Cocktail

Black Forest Cocktail

I have already said how lovely it was to receive a hamper full of goodies from Aldi to review for Easter. Even better that they gave cocktail and drinks pairings for each Easter treat.

Last night I sampled the dark chocolate marzipan egg that came in the hamper. At only 69p per 100g egg  I wasn’t expecting too much but the chocolate was properly dark and the marzipan dense and toothsome.

Marzipan Egg

The cocktail that was paired with the marzipan egg was a Black Forest Cocktail. Given the marzipan connection this might make a good cocktail to drink with a slice of Simnel cake too.

Cocktail ingredients.

Cocktail ingredients.

Black Forest Cocktail

45 ml Amaretto Liqueur

15 ml whiskey

20 ml double cream

20 ml morello cherry juice

ice cubes

Ground almonds, to rim the glass,

morello cherry and dark chocolate, to garnish.

How to

  • Using amaretto to wet the rim of the glass dip the rim of a Martini glass into ground almonds.
  • Place all the ingredients except the garnish into a cocktail shaker.
  • Shake with the ice.
  • Strain into the prepared Martini glass.
  • Garnish with a cherry and dark chocolate shavings.

I was sent a number of products to try by Aldi, I was not paid for this post and was not obliged to write a review positive or negative of these products.

April 12, 2014 / mintcustard

Hot Cross Bun Waffles

Pimping the waffle recipe.

Pimping the waffle recipe.

In the past, weekend mornings were a whirl of sports kits and strong black coffee. Now the teens are either at Uni or firmly rooted in bed until lunchtime we can indulge in a leisurely breakfast, read the papers and listen to a radio station of our choice. What to have for this breakfast then?

When the children were little and we were on holiday we would have to book into particular hotels in the US as they were the establishments that had waffle makers available for guests to use in the mornings. The girls loved making the waffles which were then covered in butter and syrup. The waffles set them up for the day and washed down with juice and a big bowl of fruit they staved off jet lag for a while too. Fortunately reasonably priced waffle makers hadn’t made it across the pond so the most exotic breakfast we used to have in this house was the occasional big American pancake.

Waffle maker, with a UK plug!

Waffle maker, with a UK plug!

Not so now…. I picked up this waffle maker at Christmas for under £20. The teens were happy but strangely I was ecstatic. Perhaps we booked those hotels for me too! Since then every so often I get it out and treat myself. As we are coming up to Easter I thought I’d try to incorporate Hot Cross Bun flavours. I have left out the raisins, mainly because I don’t have any but also a burnt raisin can easily taint a dish and I want to enjoy my breakfast.

Hot Cross Bun Waffles, with an icing cross for good measure.

Hot Cross Bun Waffles, with an icing cross for good measure.

Hot Cross Bun Waffles – makes enough for 2 to feel full, double quantity for a family.

 

125 g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

10 g caster sugar

pinch salt

230 ml milk

1 large free range egg

15 ml vegetable oil

few grinds of nutmeg

good pinch cinnamon

good pinch of allspice

grated rind of half an orange

Simple glace icing to serve.

How to

  • Place all the dry ingredients into a big bowl, including the spices and orange rind.
  • Beat the egg into the milk, add the oil and then pour the wet ingredients into the dry.
  • Whisk together gently until just combined. Don’t be heavy handed as the waffles then become dense and chewy.
  • Pour into your waffle maker and cook as per the manufacturers instructions.
  • Pop onto a place and pipe a cross on the waffles with simple glace icing, if that is too much pfaff then sprinkle of icing sugar and eat.

Happy Easter!

 

April 11, 2014 / mintcustard

Oh Fudge! White chocolate and cranberry Rocky Road fudge to be exact.

White chocolate and cranberry rocky road fudge.

White chocolate and cranberry rocky road fudge.

You know when half way through a tried and trusted recipe disaster strikes. Well that happened yesterday to me. I have made a wonderful fudge recipe from Utterly Scrummy food for families a number of times and it vanishes within seconds of cooling. I had some spare white chocolate and a bag of cranberries so decided to use those this time. Then of course I thought why not go the whole hog and Rocky Road it up with some shortbread crumbs and a few marshmallows.

Knowing I was going to use Michelle’s recipe I asked her if it would be OK to blog it and she graciously said I could.

So why was there a problem in my kitchen yesterday?

The recipe works brilliantly, the flavour combinations are tried and tested, I even remembered to line the tin before starting.

Well, half way through boiling the fudge my trusty sugar thermometer gave up the ghost. I am of an age where I need to put on my reading glasses to read a scale. When the red line vanished I assumed it was “my age” and my glasses had steamed up, but no, the liquid in the tube had split into four distinct parts. Consequently I had no idea of the temperature of the fudge. Yes, I know I could drop a piece into cool water and see if it makes a soft ball, but I’m a scientist by training and I love a gadget! I made a stab at it but I think I was a little out as the final result was a somewhat more grainy than I have had in the past.

Disaster is about to strike!

Disaster is about to strike!

It was still devoured though and tastes brilliant so Thank you Michelle at Utterly Scrummy for the inspiration and the recipe.

 

Ingredients

Fudge ingredients

Fudge ingredients

Please use Michelle’s recipe but I added in white chocolate rather than milk, 75g dried cranberries, two chopped shortbread fingers and a handful of mini marshmallows pressed into the top as the fudge cooled.

The offending thermometer!

The offending thermometer!

Any suggestions for a good, reliable sugar thermometer, because obviously I am now without one.

April 10, 2014 / mintcustard

Rabbit’s milk and a white chocolate bunny. Easter Cocktails from Aldi.

I am not averse to an alcoholic  beverage, I adore chocolate. For some reason however Easter and cocktails doesn’t or didn’t seem an obvious connection. I have to say I am now converted. Thanks to a beautiful hamper of Easter treats and chocolates sent for me to try by Aldi. Aldi’s core philosophy is to offer high quality, brand like products at low everyday prices.

Easter cocktail hamper.

Easter cocktail hamper.

Choc full, pin intended, of both delicious chocolates and drinks I really didn’t know where to start. The student had returned from University so she helped me decide on the “Rabbit’s milk” cocktail which was designed to pair with the white chocolate bunny.  I’m not a rum drinker usually but I did enjoy the almost milkshake quality of this drink. The rum didn’t overpower the chocolate rather it cut through the richness. I’m still unsure when eating chocolate animals whether decapitation is kindest or should you nibble them feet first?

Rabbit's milk ingredients!

Rabbit’s milk ingredients!

Rabbit’s Milk Cocktail.

30 ml Old Hopking Dark rum

30 ml Cocobay White Rum and Coconut

100 ml cold full cream milk

50 ml double cream

ice

grated white chocolate and cocoa powder to garnish.

How to.

  •  Place all the ingredients (except the white choc and cocoa) into a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a tall glass.
  • Garnish with grated chocolate and a dusting of cocoa powder.
  • Drink whilst nibbling on a Choceur white chocolate bunny (99p)!
Rabbit's milk cocktail.

Rabbit’s milk cocktail.

I was sent a number of products to try by Aldi, I was not paid for this post and was not obliged to write a review positive or negative of these products.

April 9, 2014 / mintcustard

Cheesy Hammy Dodgers – no it isn’t a typo!

Cheesy Hammy Dodgers

Cheesy Hammy Dodgers

I feel I need to confess something. I have a weakness for cookie cutters. I really didn’t realise quite how bad this problem was until I was clearing “the drawer” in my kitchen. Suddenly, when they were spread all over the work-surface, I could see just how many I had, and how many were still in their packaging. This put me in a quandary. I had also recently audited Mintcustard. Noticing just how many sugary posts I’d made I had vowed to try to redress the bias with a few savoury recipes.

Was it possible to use cookie cutters and create a savoury recipe at the same time?

Of course it is. I do hope you enjoy these Hammy dodgers. a light cheesy puffy biscuit, a dash of honey mustard and a slice of ham. Very moreish.

Smiley face cookie cutters

Smiley face cookie cutters

Using my most recent cookie cutter purchase, they can be made for children at home over the holidays, popped into packed lunches or served with a big bowl of soup for a Saturday lazy lunch. I’m sure they would be a hit at birthday parties too. If you prefer not to eat meat then a smear of red or green pesto works wonderfully as does Marmite. If the grown-ups feel left out I can vouch for the fact that tapenade is brilliant in these biscuits too. This is really just my cheese straw recipe with the odd tweak.

Four simple ingredients.

Four simple ingredients.

Ingredients  make 30 cookies or 15 hammy dodgers

150 g soft butter

150 g plain flour

150 g  extra strong cheese (finely grated)

1 egg yolk

A smiley faces cookie cutter set (mine came from Sainsburys)

baking trays lines with parchment

Filling 

ham

mustard

pesto

marmite

How to

  • Place the flour, cheese butter and an egg yolk into a big bowl.
  • Get your hands in as the warmth from your hands is essential in getting the dough to form.
  • When the dough comes together, it is very soft but don’t panic, wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 200c
  • Take the dough out from the fridge and place on a floured work surface.
  • Roll out to the thickness of a £1 coin.
  • Cut out an equal number of tops and bottoms of your biscuit.
Remember to make equal amounts of tops and bottoms!

Remember to make equal amounts of tops and bottoms!

  • Place on your baking trays and bake for 15 minutes or until golden and crisp.
  • Allow to cool for a little on the trays and then transfer to a wire rack.
Smiles all round.

Smiles all round.

  • When completely cool either sandwich together with a filling of your choice and eat within the next couple of hours or place the unfilled biscuits in a tin for up to 48 hours.
April 9, 2014 / mintcustard

Oven baked sweet potato chips.

 

Sweet potato chips

Sweet potato chips

I have been posting a large number of sweet baking recipe recently so I had planned to redress this a little with a savoury recipe or two. This is a completely unplanned post however as I happened to mention that I was having sweet potato chips for tea and was asked via Twitter for this low GI recipe. Sorry there is only one photo but this is a slightly “on the hoof” post.

Here we go then. Unless you want complaints from the teens buy the sweet potatoes with orange flesh as these look better on the plate. I failed in my parenting duties (again) by getting the white ones.

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato per person. (orange fleshed ones look and taste best according to the teens in this house)

oil

paprika

salt

How to

  • Pre heat the oven to 220c
  • Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into wedges the size of chip shop chips.
  • Drizzle a little oil onto the baking tray, sprinkle the oil with salt and paprika.
  • Tip over the sweet potato wedges and toss in the oil and paprika.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes turn the chips so that they brown evenly.

Serve as an alternative to chips with any meal. The meal we had was soy glazed chicken, sweet potato chips and steamed kale.

Extra Veg Badge-003I have added this to the Extra veg blog hop, this is hosted alternatively by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours (this month’s host) and Michelle at Utterly Scrummy. Swerve the spuds and slip in some sweet potatoes instead.

 

April 7, 2014 / mintcustard

Coffee recipes for UK coffee week.

I will make it quite clear from the outset here, no one has asked me to post about UK Coffee Week. Its true I adore coffee. Nothing makes me happier than whiling away an afternoon in a coffee shop with a friend, chatting and most likely gossiping. I am so lucky that I can.

In many, many areas of the world clean water cannot be taken for granted. UK Coffee Week is for everyone who enjoys coffee and wants to give something back to the countries which produce the beans we all love so much.

PROJECT WATERFALL
Project Waterfall in partnership with WaterAid provides safe drinking water, good hygiene and improved sanitation to some of the poorest communities in the coffee growing regions of Africa.  They are currently supporting over 8,000 people in Mbulu district in Tanzania.

 

So this is what I’ve decided to do, I’m reposting a couple of recipes that have coffee as a main ingredient. If you use them could you consider making a small donation to Project Waterfall. Thanks.

 

Click here to donate.

Coffee fudge topped walnut cake

Coffee fudge topped walnut cake

My version of a PJ day is to pop on an apron and spend the day in the kitchen baking.

Yesterday was one of those days. The rain cascaded down the windows, wind howled around outside and the teen was watching  vacuous movies in the lounge. M was away so I had to make my own entertainment. What’s a woman to do but bake?

Ingredients

Ingredients

The sourdough loaf was cooling on the rack, the pastry for my Australia Day pie was resting in the fridge but I still had some get up and go remaining. The cake tin was empty so a cake it was then. I have been using a number of products from the Sainsburys basics range and this recipe uses their eggs and butter.

A traybake is easier to portion when it comes to packed lunches. I have made the cake before but the icing is a variation of a chocolate fudge icing recipe I use often. The whole thing worked really rather well.

Ingredients – cake

175 g  basics butter,

175 g caster sugar,

175 g Self Raising flour

75 g walnuts chopped

3 basics eggs

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsps coffee granules in 1 tbsp boiling water

Icing

75 g butter

2 tsps coffee granules in 1 tbsp hot water

250g icing sugar

walnut halves to decorate.

How to 

  • Preheat the oven to 180c
  • Grease and line a 20cm x 30cm tin.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time. If the mixture splits add in a tbsp of the flour at this point.
  • Stir in the coffee mix.
  • Fold in the flour, baking powder and walnuts until well combined.
  • PLace in the tin, level and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cake has shrunk away from the sides of the tin.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.
  • Make the icing.
  • Melt the butter in saucepan and remove from the heat. Stir in the dissolved coffee.
  • Beat in the icing sugar a little at a time to prevent lumps and until the icing reaches a thick fudgy but pour-able consistency. Depending on the temperature in the kitchen this may take a little more icing sugar or a little less.
  • Smooth onto the cooled cake, mark the lines using the tines of your fork. Decorate with walnut halves.
  • Try a test piece with a cup of tea. Fill up your cake tin with the rest.

Mocha Bourbons.

If there is one thing I love more that a cup of tea it’s a biscuit to go with it. I have recently made my own version of Tunnock’s tea cakes and am very much in favour of a flapjack, but when it comes to something to go with my cuppa I’m very pedestrian. Pass me a custard creme or a Bourbon and I’ll be chuffed to bit. This got me thinking, I could make my own Bourbons. Then I remembered coming across the We should cocoa bloggers challenge. Established by chocolate teapot and  chocolate log blog and hosted this month by Lucy at The Kitchen Maid.  Lucy chose coffee as her added ingredient. Hhmmm, an idea! What about mocha bourbons, so folks that is what I did.

For the biscuit itself I used the recipe so brilliantly written by Tania at The larger Family life blog. As her family is three times the size of mine I used a half quantity of her biscuit mix. (see what I did there!) This still made me 15 filled bourbons. About a packets worth, and plenty to fill the biscuit tin for a few days. rolling the dough between two layers of parchment paper gave the dough a smooth finish and prevented it from needing to be floured too much, as I find this can make the dough more friable. I used a 6″ ruler, the kind that comes in children’s 99p geometry sets as a template for the biscuits themselves. Each biscuit being 6cm long and a ruler width across.

The filling for the biscuits is simply a coffee butter cream. I used 100g butter, whipped until very fluffy. In a cup I mixed 1 dessert-spoon of instant coffee with 1 tsp of boiling water. Mix well and allow to cool. Whip the coffee mixture into the butter. Add icing sugar until the butter cream is to your taste. I wanted to pipe the mixture so kept the butter creme fairly soft. Pipe a zigzag of butter-creme on half of the biscuits. Sandwich together and leave, if you can.  to allow the buttercream to harden.

Put the kettle on, your feet up and treat yourself to a nice cup of tea, a biscuit and a sit down.

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